Condensing Down & Bar Exam Countdown

Hello All!

I have been getting questions about whether or not to condense things, if so, how to condense, and if there is enough time to do so.

My first and most important point would be if you do not feel as though you will have time to study every topic and condense them down or never did that for law school and are trying it for the first time with approximately a month left until the exam, it may not be for you. However, if you would like to condense down and feel you have enough time to do so or have done enough practice at this point that you can identify specific subtopics to focus on, go for it.

As far as my procedure regarding condensing and memorizing, I’ll use Civil Procedure and Contracts and Sales as examples, because I felt that I did nail down those outlines. In fact, none are longer than 5 pages.

The process I used: So you have your outline book (hypothetically) which has long outlines (I think contracts and sales was around 70 pages), and lecture handouts, which usually average anywhere from a mere 10 page reduction or as high as a 30 page reduction. So when viewing lectures, I took notes in the margins and if there was something I didn’t understand or needed to review, I marked it in the margins as well and inserted the relevant info. Then I used and reviewed my Critical Pass and Studicata supplemental resources to ensure my understanding and consistency among elements. Finally, I broke everything down into an outline as I understood it, including issues to spot, rules/tests, exceptions, side notes, memory devices, and abbreviations. Then, after the fact, went back and color coded them, as I was a big color-coder in law school. It sounds like a lot of work but honestly I was able to do them in 2 days (while still doing work for my prep program) and in one day if I had little to do or decided to dedicate a day to a particular topic I was weak in.

Finally, I also experimented with differing formats, which partially depended on the topic but also whether organization or substance needed to be focused on, etc.. For example, see below for a fairly non-traditional/ different outlines in terms of structure, color-coding, etc. but effective nonetheless:

 

 

If outlines are not for you, don’t worry – this post is meant for those who have asked questions regarding outlines. Keep practicing essays and MBE questions and study hard!

As a side note, I did not make outlines for every topic and also used more traditional formats, but I found that certain alternatives were more effective.

Of Supplements, Bar Studying, and Discounts

A lot of people have inquired of me about my opinion on supplements. I personally feel that if you are wondering about supplements for bar preparation, there is usually a reason or area that you have come across that is troubling or confusing to you.

In such situations, I think it wise to purchase them sooner than later – you do not want to be 2 weeks out from the exam and purchasing a product to desperately drill and hope some information soaks in for the MBE or MEE.

I have made plain how I feel about Studicata and its utility and you can find my full review here: Studicata Review and Discount or simply click right here and utilize my discount code, which will save you 15% off your purchase.

There are also people who have asked about Critical Pass flashcards and as far as they go, it depends; did flashcards work for you in law school? If so, they are quite comprehensive and meant for the MBE and you can find my discount code for them HERE.

Finally, stay tuned for visual aids/new material from me this week!

Bar Motivation

As the big day gets closer and study days get longer, I know some (if  not many) of you will need or be looking for an extra something to keep you grinding and drilling. Thus, the “Bar Motivation,” Page.

To celebrate this inaugural motivational post, a quote from a longtime favorite of mine – J.K. Rowling:

It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

Choose to push forward, to know and identify your weaknesses and strengths, to practice and work like never before, and go into the Bar Exam on test day knowing that you made the right choices. Do not allow poor performance in one area or struggling in one area stop you or bring you down, but rise to the occasion.

 

Studicata Product Review & Discount

An Updated Review for July 2018! Read on to see what new features/products are available now!

Product Type: Study supplement/aid, rule drilling, issue spotting for the MBE, UBE/MEE, and California Bar Exams. If you already know about Studicata and are simply looking for the discount code, it is: right here and will save you 15% off your purchase.

Who is it for? Examinees sitting for the UBE/MEE, or the California Bar Exam (35 states, plus Guam, Mariana Islands, Palau, and the Virgin Islands). To see the full list of jurisdictions, click HERE.

Rating: 4.75/5

Mobile App: Yes, for flashcards.

What is it and What do you get? Studicata is a 3-in-1 product that includes detailed outlines (“Attack Outlines”), Flashcards, and short Summaries. In their words, you attack, drill, and master with each product, respectively.

Attack Outlines: The attack outlines cover every testable subject and its sub-topics in a well-organized, logical order and include the proper/necessary legal terminology, but in my opinion, are also worded in such a way as to promote understanding a concept rather than merely providing something to attempt to memorize. Understanding is key to the analysis and application of a rule, be it an essay or an MBE fact pattern.

The attack outlines are also beautiful in contrast to the black and white of bar prep company outlines, with color on topic headings and a colored scale ranging from orange to blue to grey, which shows the test frequency (and arguably the importance) of a rule or concept based on research conducted by Studicata of past Bar Exams. This is certainly where I would recommend starting. Remarkably, the attack outlines are also substantially shorter than the two outline books that bar prep companies send to you – my attack outline document is just under 200 pages, which I believe equates to roughly 3 MBE topic outlines. I would also like to note that Studicata has updated their frequency/percentage statistics since the February exam. In comparing their product from February to the product currently being offered, the frequency of certain rules have been adjusted. Whether this is based on data from the February exam or the most recently released MBE data, it is clear that the Studicata team is doing their due diligence in keeping abreast of not just changes in law, but also changes in testing trends and topic frequency. Finally, I decided to choose a random topic, read it aloud, and recorded it to compare the time it takes to get through one “Big 7” MBE subject as opposed to how long it would to read a traditional bar exam company outline. I tried to read it at a pace comparable to a typical lecture pace, while also trying to ensure I understood it. The total time spent was 50 minutes for Contracts and Sales. In other words, it is a massive time saver, thus allowing examinees more time to practice.

Flashcards come in 3 different PDF files which give you different options on how to print them (i.e. front and back, foldable, etc.) and comes with an app. They are therefore exceptionally easy to print, and you can bring them wherever you go through the app. Flashcards come for every topic testable on the UBE (MBE and MEE) and presumably for every topic tested in California and other territories. One of the great things about the flashcards is that they do not just cover rules and concepts, but there are also cards that focus solely on issues and gateway issues. In other words, Studicata has incorporated issue spotting and how certain analyses go into their flashcards. Thus, on top of drilling the rules, exceptions, and concepts, you can drill issue spotting and analysis, all of which are important to your essay writing.

  • The App: I am so impressed with the app that Studicata has developed that I feel the need to comment on it separately. This app comes with several different modes that are useful and allow the user to use several or a single study method to learn, including allowing the user to create custom study sets and even allow you to create folders to organize said study sets. The first study mode is Learn, where the user chooses a topic and goes through a set of flashcards, reading the substance of the card (be it a rule or an issue) and then the user must choose from 4 possible answers as to what the substance is. If you get a card incorrect, it alerts you and shows you the card a second time immediately thereafter for review. The next mode is Flashcards, which is the most like using physical flash cards – you read one side, swipe, and read the other. This mode also allows the user to “favorite” flashcards and for audio learners, you can click a button and the app will read the card to you. Write mode also has audio, or you can not turn your volume off and simply read one side of the flashcard, and you type (or “write”) the concept, rule, etc. and enter your answer. If you get one incorrect, it shows the correct answer and requires you to type it before moving on, which is another excellent way to retain information. Match mode shows a total of 12 cards (6 for one side, 6 for the other) and the user must match the name of the rule, statute, etc., with its definition. This may sound too easy, as process of elimination or carefully reading the cards would allow the user to figure out the match. While that may be true, I submit to you that that approach can help you learn. However, there is a catch: you are timed, so you have the time pressure component and can try to go faster each time. Not only is this a somewhat fun exercise, particularly in the context of studying for the Bar Exam, but in this blogger’s opinion the timer bringing in a speed component will prove fruitful when time demands you to recall rules or spot issues. Finally, there is Test mode, which is self-explanatory, but the user can customize the number of questions, whether you are tested by term or definition, and whether you want to answer by multiple choice, writing, or true/false (see below – click the thumbnail images to open a new tab and view full sized) Other Features: The Studicata App allows you to set a test date (or, should you want to, an earlier date). By setting a test date and beginning your review of a topic on the app, the app will then send notifications based on your test date as a reminder to study or review for a certain topic. I am not sure as to what criteria goes into sending along a notification, but I would recommend starting at different times rather than going into the settings and setting every topic up at the same time. I did the latter after I had played around with the app on contracts, and I get reminders for all of those topics at the same time. However, I think (I could be wrong but I am sure a Studicata representative would be happy to answer this) that if you do the topics as they come up in your bar prep program or your bar study schedule, then you should theoretically get reminders at different times, as it does remind me to do contracts at a different time than all the other topics. Regardless of the methodology behind the reminders and days until your test, it is undoubtedly a helpful feature that – at least as of this past summer – even some bar prep program apps do not have (and I used one of the main/major companies).

 

Summaries: The summaries are condensed 2 to 4 page per subject summaries that list off the rules you should know and have memorized and therefore are not only good for their condensed nature but can be used in a number of ways. I know some people who used them towards the end of studying to make up for perhaps not studying as much or as hard as one should have on a topic or were used in the same manner due to the fact that studying for the bar can be difficult in and of itself, but life happens; if you get sick and are out of commission or there is a family emergency or something else that may throw a wrench in your study pattern, and thus this could be a fast way of catching up. However, I liked to use the summaries not only as review but as a checklist. I would put a check next to a rule that I had memorized, and highlight or circle any that I misunderstood or had not entirely memorized, which I found to be a very useful self-assessment tool.

*NEW Product* ESSAY TEMPLATES: For an additional $29.00, you may elect to get Studicata’s Essay Templates, which provide practice for issue spotting, sub-issues, and organizational structure for essays in 6 of the big 7 MBE topics – Torts, Crim Pro [less crim law], Evidence, Contracts, Constitutional Law, and Civil Procedure. The essay templates also are helpful for understanding a particular process and can even be easily diagramed out. For example, there are bolded, bracketed, statements saying things to the effect of “If there is X then Y,” and “If X is not present then Z.” Finally, the Essay Templates show examples of rules and application thereof, and contain fill-in-the-blank aspects to provide extra practice and retention. A sample of the new essay templates can be viewed HERE.

Purchasing the Product: Examinees may purchase the Attack Outlines for $89.00, or upgrade to the full 3-part system for $168.00. If you choose to add on the new Essay Templates for $29.00, your total comes to $197.00, before using a discount code. In contrast, the old price was $267.00.

Bonuses to Buying the 3-part System: Examinees who purchase the 3-part Studicata System are granted access to a closed Facebook group with fellow examinees as well as professionals in the field and will similarly be granted access to weekly Question and Answer videos as well as Essay Dissection videos. The videos will also be viewable by product users and start June 1st. However, the Studicata Co-Founder doing these videos has made other videos public and available on YouTube covering a number of topics from substantive/black letter law videos to schedule advice videos and can be viewed on their YouTube Channel Here.

DISCOUNT CODE: To save even more, whether you bundle or only purchase 1 product, claim a 15% discount by clicking here  (savings vary depending on how and what you purchase)

What do I get out of this? Nothing. Seriously. I have no financial incentive to promote the product, my code is not part of the new Studicata Affiliate program (which purchasers may want to look into) whereby you can earn commissions to get your money back. I reviewed this product because I found it immensely helpful and this website is about law and bar preparation and so on, and Michael, the Co-Founder allowed me the opportunity to review the changes in his product.

Have Questions? If you have any further or more nuanced questions regarding Studicata, I would encourage you to visit their Homepage and use the chat function to speak to a member of their team.

Bar Tips to Keep in Mind – Not Fall Behind!

Just some broad tips to help ease the pain and stay on track. I know it is memorial day weekend everyone is likely to be off on Monday and perhaps you have not fallen behind, but may fall behind due to some sort of festivities, be it a barbecue or a birthday. I also have noticed on top law schools forums (TLS is great, their bar prep/discussion forums are here and worth checking out) that there are people behind “already” to use their words and are on the panic train. But fear not! I have you covered.

  1. Keep track of your time and budget it wisely from the start. If you are taking the UBE and are NOT sure how to allocate your time I suggest locking down the “big 7” MBE topics and the MPT first. Why? The MBE is 50% of the score, your MPT’s are 20%, and since the big 7 are fair game for the MEE, assume conservatively (this can be argued, but since there have been recent test sessions with as many as 4 MBE focused or related essays, I will call this a conservative estimate) that 2 of your 6 essays are either entirely MBE topics or that they will be mixed in with hybrid essays, such that they account for a portion of your total score equal to two essays. That would mean that the Big 7 and MPT’s alone can add up to 80% of your total score.
  2. As Bar Prep begins, make sure you stay on top of practice essays and MBE question sets to identify what subjects  or subtopics need attention (i.e. identify your weak points and study, practice, review, practice, study, practice, then repeat).
  3. DO NOT PANIC! Remember, this exam is only as much of a beast as you make it, and you have invested time in law school and internships/externships/clinics/law reviews, and so on.
  4. Use what you know! Cant fit any more mneumonics, acronyms, or songs into your brain? Use what you know best and try analogizing. Have a book or movie series you know by heart? A lot of rules and tests can be put into the context of your choice. Have a memorable law school moment or real life experience that applies? Then use that – whatever works best!
  5. Do not be afraid to ask for help! If there is a major subtopic you do not understand, reach out to someone, whether it be someone at a bar prep company or a study buddy or people online, whether it is one of us, a friend, a discussion or thread in a forum (top law schools appears to have fairly lively, and multiple, bar prep threads/discussions).

Note: These are 5 tips specific to the bar exam, but make sure that you are getting enough sleep, shoot for exercise of some sort for 30 minutes a day, eat healthy and get your essential vitamins and proteins!

The California Bar Exam

For any bar examinees taking the California Bar, there is little advice I can provide outside the MBE portion of the exam, but I CAN give recommendations as to where you should look. Studicata covers California, so provided the California materials are equal in quality to their UBE/NY product, it truly is a helpful system and an updated review is forthcoming.

Additionally, I wanted to share that I stumbled upon another bar exam blogger focused on California, and she seems to be just what her website says: a bar exam guru. Her archives stretch back to 2007, she has free resources and – it appears – a study system. Along with blogging regularly, there are templates, predictions, information about the bar exam, and so forth. You can find her blog (followed by almost 9,000 people) Here!

UPDATE: Contracts Analysis and Studicata Product Review

I have uploaded a Basic Contracts Analysis flow chart on our Study Aids page. More in-depth Contracts materials will be uploaded soon!

contracts analysis bare bones image
Preview of Contract Analysis

For the file sized file, go to the Study Aids page as noted above. Happy Studying!